I grew up in Southwest Detroit and I guess you can say that I am old fashioned, because I can remember the old days when one went to the produce store, the butcher shop, the fish monger, bakery and milk depot; not to mention the Ethnic specialty stores. Then the world changed and there were “super markets” which begat “big box” stores. The old women from my neighborhood would never condone these changes, even though they all had refrigerators and freezers, they would go out shopping daily with their wheeled buggies to bring back what they were going to cook that day, and I think part of it, was so that they could visit with all of the other old women who were doing the same routine.
I am happy to say, that there are some markets that are bucking the trend with the new markets that are appearing. They are all bigger then the old store fronts from my old neighborhood, but the concept is the same. More of the today offerings, but they are all under one roof, but not with the feeling of indifference. Cantoro Italian Market when I first discovered them was a decent size Italian market with the bakery, butcher shop et al, but it had the feeling of a neighborhood store. Then they built the new store and what a pleasure to go shopping. All of the draws that brought us there in the first place are there, but bigger and it stills feels like a small shop. Just like the old days, you took a number and waited to be served at some of the counters, egalitarian and comfortable. The wine shop is not just an afterthought and it is an experience to itself. Want to relax with some caffeine and some pastries; there is a place for that. The ultimate experience is that you can go to the market to buy groceries, to make dinner, but you can also go there and dine and forget the cooking. One day we ate and then we shopped. My Bride had Pizza Margherita, one of her favorites with tomato sauce, fresh Mozzarella, Basil and Cantoro’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil. As for me, I went for some comfort food as in Penne Alle Vodka, just a dish of pasta, Pancetta, onions, vodka, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, cream and scallions. A couple of dishes that are easier to order, than to make at home.
The best part of shopping and dining at Cantoro now is that we can have a bottle of wine while we are at the store. That is the epitome of grocery shopping and I have to admit, we could not do that back in the old days. Since they have such a great wine shop, it is no surprise that they had some great choices to have in the restaurant. We selected a bottle of Luigi Righetti Capitel de Roari Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2011. This wine comes from the Veneto region of Italy and Veneto is actually the largest producing region of wine in the country. Valpolicella is one of the most known types of wine from Italy, while the Amarone is a special type of Valpolicella using dried grapes for extra concentration, utilizing the famed grapes of the region of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. The Classico designation ensures that the wine is from the classic demarcated area of Valpolicella, before the boundaries were enlarged. What a pleasant wine to have during the afternoon, and when I saw the bottle, I had to check The Wine Raconteur on my phone, and I had the 2000 vintage of this wine as well. This was great mix of yesterday and today all in one stop and a wonderful afternoon.